I feared this phrase, rejecting it, pushing it away. So afraid if I said it I'd curse it somehow, that if the words even escaped my lips someone would come along and laugh at me. I don't deserve happiness, if I did find it I had to run from it.

"I love you," he told me. I think he meant it. He was there when I needed him, even if his reasons were wrong, even if I didn't love him enough. But I think maybe I did. I can't be sure.

"I have to leave," I told him and he didn't understand why. I tried to explain it was because I didn't deserve happiness. That if I ever said the words I'd be locked into a cage and beaten the life out of me. That's what I knew. I went back to what I knew.

I don't know when I began to say I am happy without this fear. But I can say it now. It's funny what a declaration of your feelings can mean.